Bilingual education in Slovakia: A Case Study
Keywords:bilingual education, bilingual schools, CLIL, foreign language teaching, case study
AbstractBilingual education is one of the areas in contemporary education that brings out some important controversies (philosophical, conceptual, sociological, political, economical, etc.) and thus calls for extensive and intensive debate. Bilingual education in Europe (and here the European Union countries are meant) has gained a very different status, due to the general European policy of developing language diversity and promoting “European plurilingualism and multilingualism”. In Slovakia, one of the younger members of the EU, bilingual education became an extraordinarily popular instrument for the fulfilment of this task. Since the specifically defined topic of bilingual education and its current status in Slovakia has not been studied and systematically reviewed yet, the research presented in this paper was designed as a single-phenomenon revelatory case study investigating seven research areas: reflection of bilingual education in school legislation and state pedagogical documents, purposes of bilingual education in Slovakia, its organization (levels and types of schools, foreign languages incorporated, teachers), structure of bilingual schools curricula, types of bilingual education applied at Slovak bilingual schools, and how bilingual education is both reflected in and saturated by the latest research findings. The conclusions presented in the paper were collected from multiple sources: state curriculum, statistical data published by the Slovak Ministry of Education or its partner institutions, international treaties on establishing and supporting bilingual sections of schools, bilingual schools curricula, interviews with school directors, teachers, and learners, direct observations at bilingual schools, research studies and research reports, etc. In the conclusion, bilingual education in Slovakia is identified as a unique, dynamically developing system which is both significantly shaped by the foreign language education policy promoted by the European Council (1995) as well as bears some specific characteristics, determined by its unique historical, political, and socio-cultural contexts. The paper includes partial results of the research project KEGA 036UKF-4/2013 Creating university textbooks and multimedia courses for a new study program funded by the Ministry of Education of the Slovak Republic.
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